Friday 9 September 2016

Pharmacy only

The folks over at the public health blog argue that access to nicotine for vaping should only be through pharmacies, or maybe through some licensed registered shops.

One thing is obviously missing from their tallying of the relative costs and benefits of pharmacy-only access. I'll copy their table below.

A brief summary table

Attribute/issuePharmaciesVape stores
Product arrayLikely to be more limitedLikely to be more diverse and include the newest products
Product expertiseLess likely to have personal experience and specific product expertiseMore likely to have personal experience and specific product expertise
Tobacco cessation expertiseStaff likely to be trained in smoking cessation supportStaff more likely to require formal cessation support training
Experience with regulationsAccustomed to dealing with regulation of restricted substancesLess experience in dealing with regulation of restricted substances and of advertising restrictions
Profit motivationLess incentive to sustain sales beyond cessation?More incentive to sustain sales beyond cessation?
Outlet numbers and locationsMore outlets covering greater proportion of NZFewer outlets, may have limited reach in some areas
PricingMay have lower sales volumes and be less price competitive (except perhaps if pharmacy chains were involved).May have higher sales volumes enabling lower prices – but potentially lower purchasing power than pharmacy chains.
Customer profileLikely to be more diverseLikely to be less diverse
Monitoring costs for regulatorsLow as pharmacies are already fairly regulated and should be highly motivated to sustain their reputationsPotentially higher given the potential profit motivation (as per above)
Here's a hint. Suppose you're a parent and you need to get Bonjela for a teething kid. It's 11.30 at night. Does it make a difference if it's pharmacy-only?

There's something pretty obvious missing here that reflects a lack of concern for the user's perspective on things?

They also really fail to establish the case for having the things only in regulated outlets as compared to corner shops, with sales restricted to those 18+. Just because enforcement of 18+ isn't perfect in tobacco shops is hardly reason to lock everything up in pharmacies.

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